Werth Capitol Fur Farm
2980 County Highway MM
When one thinks of Wisconsin, one thinks of dairy cows and cheese. However, Wisconsin was also the top mink fur producing state in 2018. It thus is not surprising that Fitchburg had a fur farm from 1927 to 1998. John Werth, born in 1883, immigrated from Germany in 1906. After working as a shoemaker on State Street in Madison, John served as a caretaker of a fox farm in 1927. This is the year a brick building was built to manage the raising and processing of fox pelts. The Wisconsin Historical Society added this building to their Architecture and History Inventory in 2019. By 1931, he bought the 40-acre farm in the northeast corner of Fitchburg. By 1940, John and his son Anton (Tony) were sharing the farm, John living with his other son Rudolph and Tony with his wife and 3 year old son John.
Tony’s son John obtained a degree from the University of Wisconsin Agricultural School in 1959 and took over the management of the fur farm from his father. Before World War II fox fur was in high demand and the Werth farm, known as the Werth Capitol Fur Farm, did very well. However, after the war the short fur of mink came into higher demand than the long-haired fox fur and Tony started raising mink. In the 1980s there was less of a demand for fur as animal rights group lobbied against the use of fur for clothing.
John persevered with the fur farm and in 1998 retired. Like he and his father Tony, John’s two daughters and their husbands built homes on the property and lived there for a portion of their lives. John died September 7, 2018. Interestingly, over the last decade clothing made with animal pelts have become more popular. While Wisconsin and the United states have only a small fraction of the world production of animal pelts, they nevertheless play a part of our Fitchburg history.